WHEN doctors examined 30-year-old Chris Spry's jaw, they were horrified to find the tip of a steak knife lodged there that his evil foster mother had rammed down his throat when he was a child.
It’s one of the many horrific injuries he suffered over a 13-year period at the hands of Eunice Spry, who would shove hot pokers down his throat, lock him away naked and starving for months at a time and once kneecapped him with a cricket bat.
Chris, who featured in 5Star’s My Mother The Monster, told Sun Online that Jehovah’s Witness Eunice kept a variety of poles, sticks and knives on their remote Tewkesbury farmhouse to “discipline” the little boy and his two foster sisters.
“She would shove things down our throats which was the worst for me,” he says. “A steak knife, chair legs, a machete at one point. She even put a hot poker down there.
“I can’t go to the dentist today without being knocked out because having anything in my mouth is traumatic.”
Chris, who was fostered by Spry at three, is still battling with the mental and physical damage caused by her abuse, living with constant pain, walking with a limp and needing several operations on scars that have turned cancerous.
“I don’t know why Eunice did all this stuff to us,” he says. “I don’t think she was insane. I don’t think she was mad. She was just evil. Pure evil.”
'Battered with a chair leg over chocolate'
Born in Cheltenham, Chris was taken from parents who neglected him at the age of three and placed in care with Eunice at her Gloucestershire home.
He was excited by the wide green lawn, the sandpit and the garden swing – he’d never been on a swing before – and says life was idyllic at first, with Eunice playing the “strict but loving” parent.
But, a few months later, when some chocolate went missing in the house, things quickly turned sour.
Chris and his older sisters Victoria and Alloma were taken into a bedroom where they stood in a semi-circle as Eunice quizzed them on the missing treat.
Then she took an old chair leg and began whacking the top of the children’s bare feet, one by one.
“It was the first time I’d felt real pain and I remember dropping to the floor straight away because the pain was shocking.
“None of us knew how to deal with what had just happened. The next morning we went to have a bath and I put my foot in the water and screamed. It was an open wound.
“At that point we knew something had changed in our lives.”
Starved for a month and made to eat his own vomit
The abuse soon escalated, with the chair leg frequently being employed to beat the children.
She would also regularly hold their heads underwater until they spluttered.
At one point Chris and his sister Victoria were locked, naked, in a bedroom with bare floorboards and walls for a month.
They were starved for a week at a time and would go more than three days without water.
“One day, after we hadn’t eaten for a week, Eunice brought us some bread,” recalls Chris.
“We ate the food and, because our stomach had been empty so long, puked it straight up. She just laughed and told us to eat the vomit. We did and this time it stayed down.
“I suffered hallucinations. The walls of the room started to fold in and out and it terrified me because I thought it was something spiritual. She told us magic was the devil’s work.”
Eunice, who had one natural and two adopted children that were not abused, called the foster children “evil” and “sinners” and often attacked them out of the blue.
“On one occasion, I was playing with my younger brother and not looking at Eunice when suddenly I felt this incredible pain,” says Chris. “She had come up behind me and hit me with a cricket bat, shattering my kneecap.”
On this occasion, Chris was seen at the hospital, where Eunice told doctors he had fallen off his bike, but most injuries went untreated.
“We had an old first aid book which we would read to each other and that pretty much saved our lives,” says Chris. “But it wasn’t unusual for us to have a broken arm and not attend hospital.”
Eunice, who was seen as a pillar of the Jehovah's Witness community, escaped detection by taking the children out of school and moving to a remote farmhouse in Tewkesbury.
A social service report, after her arrest, found that several professionals who had seen the children had raised concerns, including a dentist who saw broken teeth, but no action was taken.
Even as they got older the children were afraid to speak out against Eunice, who used religion as a powerful hold.
“If I’d have spoken out against her, I would have been a sinner. We believed she was saving us from the end of the world.
“She was a god to us. It was Eunice’s way and no other way, and if we couldn’t do it her way we were going against Jehovah, and deserved the discipline.”
Left with cancerous scars
Finally, when Chris was 16, his older sister Victoria broke down at church and told the congregation about the house of horrors, and Eunice was arrested.
After sentencing her to 14 years the judge said this was "worst case (of abuse) in his 40 years practising law".
“The first few weeks of the court case were hard on me,” Chris says. “It felt very wrong to put her through this, she’s my mum.
“But when the judge said it was the worst case he’d ever worked on, that was a light bulb moment.
“A mum is someone you can go to at your weakest point and be nourished, cherished and accepted. Eunice used those weaknesses against us.”
In 2008, her sentence was shortened to 12 years by the High Court and Spry, now 75, has since been released.
“I’m angry she gets to live a new life with a new identity while we are still trying to pick up the pieces, both physically and mentally.
“We’ve got a lot of scar tissue both inside and outside and for me some of that, in my mouth, turned cancerous recently and had to come out.
“I had two operations last year, one this year and I’m waiting on another major op this year.
“I walk with a limp. I will probably have arthritis by the time I’m 40. I’m battered and bruised.”
Chris, now married to wife Emma and keen to have kids of his own, says sport is his only salvation and he spends his time running and competing in triathlons.
“I have to keep busy,” he says. “As soon I sit down it floods my brain, so I don’t sit down.”
Now Chris, who became a youth worker to help other abuse victims, says he hopes his story will encourage others to speak out.
“These things are still happening and I want to warn people to look for the signs, especially in religious communities.
“If this leads to one person coming forward to tell their story and maybe get justice, then it’s all good.”
My Mother The Monster is now available on My5
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